1993 Barber Pro Series Champion Kenny Brack spent a few days trying to learn a new language at Daytona International Speedway, one of Skip Barber's newest track offerings. CART's winningest driver in 2001 logged a few hundred miles in Chip Ganassi's Dodge during testing for next month's Daytona 500 and came away with an appreciation for Winston Cup cars as well a few new words.
"I don't have any cowboy boots yet, but I do know what wedge is now," said Brack, who is considering a run at Daytona as fellow Skip Barber trained Jimmy Spencer's teammate."I got a few strange looks about my hair but Bobby Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Jerry Nadeau were very helpful.
"It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it."
The 35-year-old native of Sweden, who has already moved to Indianapolis to be close to Ganassi's CART team, said his IROC experience really helped him feel comfortable in the 3,500-pound cars.
"These cars are a little faster and have a little less downforce and when you sit in the car there are more bars so the visibility is less, but the actual feel of the car is similar to an IROC car," said Brack, who finished second in last year's IROC competition.
"You've got to run them pretty loose to go fast because you don't want to have any push in the corners. You want as little steering input as possible so you play with things to free up the car."
Brack's testing routine was a little different from Champ Cars.
"They had two cars for me so I get in one, do a warmup lap and then two timed laps before coming back in," he explained."I park that car, jump in the other one and do one warmup, two hot laps and bring it back in.
"I ran all day like that and it was interesting."
Running just a fraction quicker than Spencer on Wednesday, Brack said he couldn't tune the Dodge like his Target Toyota/Lola.
"You can do a little with springs, shocks and roll bars, but you're flat out all the time at Daytona so it comes down to aerodynamics and power," he continued.
"The bodies on these cars are extremely difficult to get through the air and everything is built by hand so no two cars are the same. There's lots of gains or losses by the body and it's quite interesting, actually."
Just like the FedEx Championship Series, the field is extremely tight at NASCAR's showcase race.
"We're always chasing one or two-10ths of a second in CART, but here you're chasing hundredths of a second," said Brack, who won four times during the 2001 CART season and finished second in the point standings.
"The difficulty is not driving on your own because you're wide open out of the pits. The difficulty is having 30 other drivers around you and knowing exactly where everyone is at and plan your driving around them."
Growing up in Sweden, this open-wheel star never imagined strapping on a stock car some day.
"No, I never did," he exclaimed."But when you get here, it grows on you, especially if you get to run IROC. Whether I get to race here next month depends on sponsorship, but this testing has been good for me.
"I think it's good for the CART series too, having me down here against all these good old boys. But I think I'm going to go buy a cowboy hat so I fit in a little better."